Home » Jazz Musicians » Ray Nance

Ray Nance

Ray Nance was a multi-talented individual. He was a fine trumpeter who not only replaced Cootie Williams with Duke Ellington's Orchestra, but gave the "plunger" position in Duke's band his own personality. In addition, Nance was one of the finest jazz violinists of the 1940s, an excellent jazz singer, and even a dancer. He studied piano, took lessons on violin, and was self-taught on trumpet. After leading a small group in Chicago (1932-1937), spending periods with the orchestras of Earl Hines (1937-1938) and Horace Henderson (1939-1940), and a few months as a solo act, Nance joined Duke Ellington's orchestra. His very first night on the job was fully documented as the band's legendary Fargo concert. A very valuable sideman, Nance played a famous trumpet solo on the original version of "Take the 'A' Train" and proved to be a fine wa-wa player; his violin added color to the suite "Black, Brown and Beige" (in addition to being showcased on numerous songs), and his singing on numbers such as "A Slip of a Lip Will Sink a Ship" and "Tulip or Turnip" was an added feature. Nance is also one of the well-known vocalists from the Ellington orchestra, having sung not the first version (that credit goes to Ivie Anderson), but arguably the definitive version of "It Don't Mean a Thing (If It Ain't Got That Swing)." It was his contribution to take the previously instrumental horn riff into the lead vocal, which constitute the now infamous, "Doo wha, doo wha, doo wha, doo wha, yeah!" He was often featured as vocalist on "Jump for Joy," "Just A-Sittin' and A-Rockin'" and "Just Squeeze Me (But Please Don't Tease Me)". Nance was with Ellington with few interruptions until 1963; by then the returning Cootie Williams had taken some of his glory. Nance made a few recordings as a bandleader, and also recorded or performed with Earl Hines, Rosemary Clooney and others. The remainder of Nance's career was relatively insignificant, with occasional small-group dates, gigs with Brooks Kerr and Chris Barber (touring England in 1974), and a few surprisingly advanced sideman recordings with Jaki Byard and Chico Hamilton.


Tags

373
Album Review

Ray Nance: Body and Soul

Read "Body and Soul" reviewed by Jeff Dayton-Johnson


Ray Nance recorded Body and Soul, his first album as a leader, in May 1969, almost thirty years after he took over Cootie Williams' trumpet chair in the Duke Ellington orchestra, but only about two years after Billy Strayhorn's death in May 1967, and mere days after Coleman Hawkins' in May 1969. Nance performed “Take the 'A' Train" at Strayhorn's funeral, and “Body and Soul" at Hawk's. Both threnodies are included here as duets with pianist Roland Hanna. Nowhere is ...

Read more articles
403

Recording

Ray Nance, Roy Ayers, Don Ellis, Pepper Adams, Harold Land, Eddie Condon, Edmond Hall Reissues on Mighty Quinn

Ray Nance, Roy Ayers, Don Ellis, Pepper Adams, Harold Land, Eddie Condon, Edmond Hall Reissues on Mighty Quinn

Source: All About Jazz

Mighty Quinn Productions was developed out of my respect for music and the people who make it. Our goal is to reissue recordings by quality artists that have not yet been released on CD, or have sadly fallen out of print. We want to make sure that worthy albums in all genres of music aren't lost or forgotten. We also plan to produce compelling new artists who we believe should be heard. Mighty Quinn is committed to providing the best ...

Music

Recordings: As Leader | As Sideperson

Duke Ellington...

Storyville Records
2024

buy

Body and Soul

Mighty Quinn Productions
2006

buy

Huffin'N'Puffin'

Abracadabra Music
1974

buy

Just A-Sittin And...

Black Lion Records
1973

buy

Body And Soul

Abracadabra Music
1970

buy

Quartet & Sextet

Abracadabra Music
0

buy

Videos

Similar

Get more of a good thing!

Our weekly newsletter highlights our top stories, our special offers, and upcoming jazz events near you.